State of North Dakota, by and through Workforce Safety and Insurance, Appellee
William Beaulieu, Appellant and CMG Oil & Gas, Inc., Respondent
from the District Court of Mountrail County, North Central
Judicial District, the Honorable Douglas L. Mattson, Judge.
Jacqueline S. Anderson, Fargo, ND, for appellee.
J. Welder, Bismarck, ND, for appellant.
1] William Beaulieu appeals from a district court judgment
reversing an administrative law judge's ("ALJ")
order awarding benefits and affirming prior Workforce Safety
& Insurance ("WSI") orders. The ALJ's order
finding Beaulieu had a fifty percent permanent partial
impairment rating was not in accordance with the law and not
supported by the evidence. Therefore, the ALJ erred in
awarding permanent partial impairment and permanent total
disability benefits. We affirm.
2] In September 2011 Beaulieu was injured while working for
CMG Oil & Gas, Inc., when the truck he was in rolled on
its side. In October 2011 WSI accepted his claim for benefits
for injuries to his head, right shoulder and lumbar spine,
and paid associated medical expenses and disability benefits.
His treating physician reported on January 10, 2013, that
Beaulieu reached maximum medical improvement.
3] In February 2014 Dr. Jane Stark conducted a commercial
driver license ("CDL") evaluation of Beaulieu,
documenting that he was indefinitely unable to drive under
the CDL requirements. In April 2014 Dr. Stark again saw
Beaulieu and assigned him "a 50% permanent total
"The patient has significant and objective
neuropsychological impairments that affect his daily
functioning and ability to operate in a work environment. Due
to the neuropsychological changes, especially with respect to
cognition and integrated functioning, it does appear that he
has significant changes which prohibit his performance of his
normal role of a truck driver and of employability."
September 2014 WSI issued an administrative order awarding
partial disability benefits based on a retained earnings
capacity of zero. Beaulieu requested a hearing, asserting he
was "entitled to permanent total disability benefits
including a permanent impairment evaluation to assist in
determining his eligibility for permanent total
4] In March 2015 Dr. Terry Young performed a
neuropsychological evaluation of Beaulieu and was asked to
provide a permanent impairment rating. Dr. Young opined
Beaulieu's deficits sustained as a result of the
September 2011 work incident "triggered an exacerbation
of a pre-existing neuropsychological condition causing
disability beyond its normal manifestation and
progression." Dr. Young assigned a ten percent permanent
impairment for the neuropsychological condition. In April
2015 WSI issued a notice of decision, stating it did not have
the necessary information to decide his permanent total
disability status. Beaulieu requested reconsideration.
5] In May 2015 WSI's permanent impairment auditor sent
Dr. Young a letter asking whether apportionment of impairment
was appropriate because of a 1971 traumatic brain injury. In
a June 2015 response "[b]ased on the Guides to the
[Evaluation] of Permanent Impairment6th Edition"
["AMA Guides"], Dr. Young apportioned five percent
of Beaulieu's neuropsychological deficit to the September
2011 work incident and five percent to neuropsychological
conditions that existed prior to 2011.
6] In July 2015 WSI issued a notice of decision, based on Dr.
Young's initial report of ten percent whole body
impairment, denying permanent impairment benefits because the
impairment was below the fourteen percent threshold for an
award. On July 31, 2015, WSI issued an amended notice of
decision, denying permanent impairment benefits based on Dr.
Young's opinion of five percent neuropsychological
impairment related to the work injury. Beaulieu requested
reconsideration, asserting the impairment determination
failed to consider other compensable conditions.
7] In September 2015 WSI issued an administrative order
denying permanent impairment benefits based on a five percent
whole person impairment as Dr. Young opined. Beaulieu
requested an administrative hearing before an ALJ. In
December 2015 WSI issued an order denying permanent total
disability benefits because he did not meet the statutory
definition for permanent total disability.
8] WSI and Beaulieu's counsel agreed to another permanent
impairment evaluation relating to other body parts. In May
2016 Dr. Douglas Martin examined Beaulieu and issued his
report providing an impairment rating "based upon the
principles of the American Medical Association Guides to the
Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Sixth Edition." Dr.
Martin assigned Beaulieu a "5 percent whole person
impairment rating from the traumatic brain injury central
nervous system abnormality with the 3 percent impairment
rating from the Facial Disorder/Disfigurement Table" for
a combined "8 percent whole person permanent partial
impairment rating." WSI's audit of Dr. Martin's
report determined Beaulieu had a combined eight percent whole
person impairment, and in June 2016 WSI issued an amended
order denying permanent impairment benefits.
9] An administrative hearing before an ALJ was held on
October 6, and December 12, 2016. The ALJ heard testimony
from Beaulieu's brother, Mike Beaulieu; Dr. Martin; and
WSI's Chief of Injury Services, Tim Whalen. In February
2017 the ALJ issued an order reversing WSI's orders that
denied permanent impairment and permanent total disability
benefits. The ALJ, primarily relying on Dr. Stark's
opinion, found the greater weight of the evidence established
Beaulieu had a fifty percent permanent impairment rating, was
entitled to permanent ...